North Carolina Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Pedestrian Injury Case based on Plaintiff’s Contributory Negligence

Pedestrian accidents can be particularly devastating due to the serious and catastrophic injuries that often result when a vehicle collides with an unprotected pedestrian. There are also often complicated legal issues in these cases regarding whether the pedestrian was walking in a permissible area at the time of the crash. If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, the experienced and compassionate Charlotte pedestrian accident lawyers at Maurer Law are prepared to help you assess your right to compensation.

The North Carolina C0urt of Appeals recently discussed a case involving a pedestrian accident. The plaintiff was walking from her apartment toward a retail store while the defendant was driving home from work at roughly 35 miles-per-hour. The plaintiff crossed two southbound lanes of the street on which the defendant was traveling and stopped at the paved median. A car in the turning late stopped to allow the plaintiff to cross, and an SUV in the adjacent lane also stopped due to backed up traffic. The SUV driver honked its horn and the plaintiff started running across the remaining northbound lanes. The defendant’s car immediately struck the plaintiff as she ran into the outermost northbound lane resulting in injuries.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant acted negligently at the time of the crash and the defendant responded by arguing that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in crossing a five-lane street during rush hour traffic outside of the crosswalk. The defendant moved for summary judgment and the court granted the motion. The plaintiff promptly appealed.

On review, the plaintiff argued that summary judgment was inappropriate because genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, whether the plaintiff was contributorily negligent, and the defendant’s negligence. The appellate court disagreed. It pointed to a statute in North Carolina stating that pedestrians crossing a roadway outside of a crosswalk shall yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles and that pedestrians have a duty to maintain a lookout when traversing areas that are intended for vehicles. The failure to abide by the duty to maintain a lookout can be used as evidence of contributory negligence.

North Carolina law also states that contributory negligence will not apply if the plaintiff can show that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident but did not take action. The appellate court concluded that the defendant was not required to yield the right of way to the plaintiff merely because the plaintiff was in danger. And even if the defendant was able to see the plaintiff running across the street, the defendant only owed the plaintiff a duty if it was obvious that the plaintiff was not aware of the danger. The record showed that the defendant did not have enough time to slow down before the plaintiff ran into her lane.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, you are probably dealing with painful injuries and major disruption in your life. Maurer Law provides a free consultation to discuss your legal situation and whether we may be able to assist you. Contact us as soon as possible at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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